Rochester Rhinos Strike Deal With City

Rochester Rhinos

The Rochester Rhinos and City of Rochester have ended their standoff over Capelli Sport Stadium, reaching an agreement that avoids immediate eviction of the club. 

The issue between the Rhinos and the city had been the club’s status for 2018. Citing financial difficulties, the Rhinos announced last fall that they would not field a team for the 2018 USL season, prompting the city to later claim that the decision put the Rhinos in default of their lease as operator of the facility. However, Rhinos owners David and Wendy Dworkin disputed that notion, believing that they would still be able to meet the terms of their lease despite not fielding a team in 2018.

Negotiations between the two sides had made little progress, and the issue went to court this week after the Rhinos sought a court order to bar the city from terminating the lease and evicting the organization. However, now the two sides have announced that they have reached an agreement that will allow the organization to continue operating the stadium in 2018. One of the key terms requires the Rhinos to inform the city of a plan to field a team for 2019 by September, or otherwise risk eviction at the end of the year. More from The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:

The deal is a reprieve, for now. It requires that the Rhinos, who are on a one-year hiatus from playing matches, submit a plan to the city by Sept. 1 to field a team in 2019. Fail to do that, and they’re booted by Dec. 31 with the agreement not to raise further challenges to eviction. Their return also must be confirmed by the USL, according to the agreement. Anything less than 15 home games in the future also will result in eviction, according to the lease addendum.

“It’s essentially a commitment, and it’s got to include a roster,” Timothy Curtin, the city’s corporation counsel, said, adding: “It’s a tough row to hoe, it would seem.”

The city owns the 12-year-old park, now called Capelli Sport Stadium. The Rhinos are the main tenant and operator. The city was attempting to evict the Rhinos organization, claiming they had violated their lease terms. But that could have left the city with an empty stadium.

Under the amended lease terms, should the Rhinos default, the city has six months to put together a deal for the 2019 season, Curtin said. The city has received one or more informal inquiries, including an offer to buy and possibly repurpose the stadium. He declined to go into specifics but said it would be rather easy to disassemble parts of the facility.

For this year, Capelli Sport Stadium is expected to be used for a variety of events, including festivals. Plans are also in place for the stadium to host four USL matches this year, all of which will feature Toronto FC II.

The stadium has been home to the Rhinos since 2006.

Image courtesy Rochester Rhinos

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